From Great Britain to Global Britain

DailyBUzz-1024x553UK Prime Minister Theresa May has delivered her well awaited for speech on how her Government is set to negotiate Brexit. While Brexit to some means becoming inward-looking and retreating into isolation, the PM today insisted that the UK will emerge from Brexit as a ‘stronger, fairer, more united and more outward-looking’ nation than ever before.

Most importantly, the PM has spoken about building a ‘truly Global Britain’, which aligns with much of the HE sector’s underlying principles of internationalisation.


Building a stronger, fairer, more Global Britain 

As one of the ‘world’s largest and strongest economies’, and with ‘partnerships and alliances in every continent’, PM May has emphasised that she wants to ensure we remain ‘a magnet for international talent and a home to the pioneers and innovators who will shape the world ahead’. Her speech was one of the most truly international talks she has yet given, as both former Home Office Secretary and in her position now as Prime Minister, which gives a positive approach to the UK’s future global outlook.

Whilst laying out an amicable framework for her vision of the UK’s relationship with Europe, her speech was simultaneously a call to ‘build relationships with old friends and new allies’ in the wider world beyond Europe, saying that the UK intends to ‘become even more global and internationalist in action and in spirit’.   Celebrating the UK as one of the most multicultural and racially diverse countries in Europe, she emphasised our very close and personal ties with the rest of the world through friendship, family and history as well as trade and business links.

She added, ‘instinctively, we want to travel to, study in, trade with countries not just in Europe but beyond the borders of our continent’.


Global Talent at BU  

Today PM May finally said the words that many across the HE sector have been waiting for, that EU citizens ‘will still be welcome in this country’ providing that UK citizens will be in return. She added that her intention to offer certainty was quickly delivered in terms of university funding because of the on-going aim to ‘attract the brightest and the best to work or study in Britain’.

‘Openness to international talent must remain one of this country’s most distinctive assets’, she continued, and in fact has added ‘The best place for science and innovation’ as one of the key components of her ’12-point Brexit plan’.

PM May said that ‘Global Britain’ must look to the future and embrace ‘one of our great strengths as a nation’, which he said was the ‘breadth and depth of our academic and scientific communities, backed up by some of the world’s best universities’.

‘We have a proud history of leading and supporting cutting-edge research and innovation’ she said, and added that the Government will welcome an ‘agreement to continue to collaborate with our European partners on major science, research, and technology initiatives’.


Internationalising HE

Echoing HE’s move towards embracing global mindsets, the PM reflected on ‘Britain’s history and culture [as] profoundly internationalist’, with our focus on the EU coming ‘at the expense of our global ties’ with the wider world.

While the speech emphasised the need to control immigration, it equally recognised the ‘great benefits’ immigration has on a nation, although these benefits took the form of more economic advantages, such as ‘filling skills shortages, delivering public services, [and] making British businesses the world-beaters they often are…’.

She also noted that the EU may need to better handle ‘the wonderful diversity of its member states’ through both respecting, and cherishing, differences.


The Government’s Industrial Strategy

The Prime Minister also made reference to the Industrial Strategy, introduced in the Chancellor of the Exchequer Phillip Hammond’s Autumn Statement late last year. The PM announced plans to further ‘reform our schools to ensure every child has the knowledge and the skills they need to thrive in post-Brexit Britain.’

We know that the new Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund aims to support business-academic collaborations, with Business Secretary Gary Clark previously saying that UK universities will play a crucial role in developing ‘a skilled workforce for the future, attracting international talent and investment, and supporting our goal of being the best place in Europe.’





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